Ken Kesey & The Merry Pranksters

The Further Inquiry cover

Photograph of Further, the Merry Prankster's Bus

From uncorrected proof of Ken Kesey, The Further Inquiry. New York: Viking, 1990. Special Collections Department.

The publication of Kesey's second novel Sometimes a Great Notion demanded his presence in New York, so Kesey bought a 1939 International Harvester school bus that he and the Merry Pranksters painted in day-glo colors, and outfitted it for a cross-country trip. With Neal Cassady at the wheel, they left La Honda in June 1964 and began their now legendary journey across the country, smoking marijuana, and dropping acid along the way. The top of the bus was made into a musical stage and when it detoured through some cities, the Pranksters blasted a combination of crude homemade music and running commentary to all the astonished onlookers. They arrived in New York in July after an arduous journey, whereupon Neal Cassady introduced them to Allen Ginsberg and Jack Kerouac. Ginsberg embraced the new legends immediately and arranged for them to drive to Millbrook to meet the other psychedelic pioneer, Timothy Leary. Jack Kerouac was not impressed and had little to say to either Kesey or the Merry Pranksters. Shown is an image of the famous bus on its journey across the United States.

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